There’s a tiny blue birdhouse nailed to the giant cherry tree in my garden.
Inside it live a family of sparrows.
I watch from my office window as the sparrow parents work tirelessly all day long, constantly feeding their babies all sorts of insects.
I stood under the birdhouse yesterday and noticed that the baby sparrows have started to perch perilously close to the tiny, round hole that their parents fly in and out of.
I’ve seen this before.
Last summer, I watched some baby sparrows in the same bird house do this too.
It means that they’re getting ready to fledge.
They start to peek out of the tiny, round hole at the world outside. It must be mind-blowing for them. Imagine!
One day, in the not so distant future, the baby sparrows will leave the bird house.
They’ll jump from it, not fly, landing on the ground below, hopping to a nearby bush or some other kind of safe shelter, where their parents will continue feeding them. I read an article about it and learned that fledgling baby birds, once they’ve left the nest, spend 2-3 days on the ground before they learn to fly.
2-3 days of danger.
Especially when there’s a cat close-by.
Who sits directly underneath the bird house.
Ready to pounce.
I don’t know if the baby birds know that my cat is waiting.
They don’t seem to?
I guess they are somehow wired to leave the nest, whether my cat, or any other sign of danger, is there or not.
It doesn’t seem to occur to them to stay in the nest.
It’s interesting, isn’t it?
Because as humans, it occurs to us to do the opposite.
We stay in the safety of what we know; in our version of the nest, and there’s no fucking way we’ll jump.
Even though, unlike the baby sparrows, there isn’t any danger lurking below.
Not real danger anyway—danger like the strong, crushing jaws and teeth of my cat.
Our ‘danger’ is different.
It lurks not on the ground below, but in the corners of our minds.
And it looks like fear: Of failure. Of fucking everything up. Of getting it wrong. Of being disappointed. Of not doing it perfectly. Of it not working out exactly like it should. Of uncertainty and not knowing. Of being different than everyone else. Of being judged. Of being mocked. Of whispers of “I told you so.” Of losing money. Of losing people. Of not being able to cope. Of not being seen to be coping. Of being found out…… And all the other wild and terrifying thoughts that race through our heads the moment we even consider peeking out of the tiny, round hole at the world outside our minds, outside our own version of our safe nest, and take it all in.
So we don’t look.
We don’t give it a go.
We stay where we are.
We don’t jump.
We fret: “Maybe I should?” “Maybe I shouldn’t.” “What if?” “How will I know everything will be ok?” “What if it all goes wrong?” “How will I cope?”
It’s funny, isn’t it? Because the baby birds don’t fret about whether to jump or not.
They just jump.